SCVNGR'S RESPONSE TO "WINE-Y" CUSTOMER: Vintank Never Paid Us A Dime And We're Its Scapegoat

This morning we reported a scathing review from a Scvngr client, Vintank.

Vintank, a small agency that does winery consulting, felt the mobile checkin company did a terrible job with its campaign and broke a lot of promises.

We got ahold of Scvngr’s founder and CEO, Seth Priebatsch who gave us his version of the story. According to Priebatsch, some of the blame was Scvngr’s, but much of it falls on Vintank.


  • Scvngr’s sales person was over eager (just like we predicted) and was fired two and a half months ago for things like the Vintank situation. Priebatsch says the person did not do due diligence on Vintank before agreeing to work with them to open Scvngr to the wine industry.
  • Vintank had some “imaginative” concepts about what was promised. Namely, no Mashable party was ever promised nor was any custom app development work.
  • Scvngr tried to appease Vintank and flew two people out to Napa for one week on Scvngr’s dime to aid the campaign.
  • Scvngr never asked for any money from Vintank nor received any from Vintank (also as we predicted). The one wine client of Vintank’s that did pay Scvngr a small fee was immediately reimbursed.
  • Scvngr says Vintank over-promised campaign delivery to its wine partners and is using Scvngr as a scapegoat.
  • Priebatsch says the misunderstanding boils down to picking a bad industry launch partner. “A bad partner can make a messy situation. And we all know that cleaning up wine spills is super hard, right?” he says.

Here’s the email we received from Priebatsch verbatim:

Several months ago, an over-eager sales person [of Scvngr’s] selected a bad partner for us to enter the wine industry. This individual is no longer with the company (was asked to leave 2.5 months ago) for lots of reasons including not doing sufficient due diligence on our entry partner into the wine industry.

I wouldn’t say that we over-promised, but rather didn’t sufficiently clamp down as VinTank ran away from reality with some “imaginative” concepts of what we would do for them.

No contract implying the things they suggest was ever signed. As with many startups, we discuss, but never promise, anything outside of a contract.

VinTank is not actually a small business or a winery. They’re a small agency who consults to wineries. And they went overboard in promising to their clients. And now they want to hold us to blame.

They assumed a ton of things that we would do for them (none of which we promised) including: a ton of custom app development (which we never do for any client), a Mashable party (what?!?), a huge amount of hands on service and others things which we as a start-up simply could not provide to one agency servicing an important, but niche market.

We actually tried really hard, including flying two of our team out to Napa for a week to work with them on leveraging Scvngr. We never asked to be reimbursed for that expense. It was a good faith gesture, taken out of pocket.

When we realised that we weren’t a good fit, we attempted to politely end relations with VinTank. We *never* asked VinTank for a penny, nor received one. They did get one client on board who did pay us a small amount of money which, after realising what VinTank had promised we immediately refunded and apologized for the misunderstanding.

Our hope was to amicably go our ways. Wishing them best of luck in the LBS space and hoping they’d wish us the same in the wine space. We’re a great fit for lots of things and lots of partners, but not everything and everyone.

VinTank was clearly not a good partner for us. I actually believe SCVNGR is a great fit for the wine industry. We’ve since done some campaigns in the wine with great success. See here.  The problem isn’t SCVNGR  + Wine Industry, it was SCVNGR + VinTank. 

Our mistake was only picking the wrong agency to enter the industry with. VinTank is a bad agency and one that we’ll obviously avoid in the future. A quality partner can be hugely successful. A bad partner (like VinTank) can make a messy situation. And we all know that cleaning up wine spills is super hard, right?

I’d strongly recommend that any startup (or any company for that matter) who gets approached by VinTank head in the other direction… FAST. You’ll end up in one of two positions: 1) Do a TON of work for little to no money and little to no return in value or 2) Get flamed for not being able to do everything in some  agencies imagination.

To read Vintank’s side of the story, click here >>

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